I am not sure about politics but a week is a long time in education. Last Friday I sat with South West Heads and Principals at Bristol Met’ Academy to listen to Sir David Carter as part of his UK roadshow speaking to schools as the new National Schools Commissioner alongside Rebecca Clarke who now fills Sir David’s SW RSC role. The very palpable elephant in the room was the result announced on the EU referendum in the early hours of Friday morning. Whichever side people voted I haven’t met a single person who knows what will happen next following this historic moment in the history of the UK. On Thursday my Year 10 Critical Thinking group held one of the most refreshing discussions I have heard in this long campaign about Britain’s future after this vote. Today we will be honouring another significant moment in the UK’s past when we attend the commemoration service in Chepstow for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. A timely reminder that in the grand scheme of things history is bigger than all of us.
I spent a really enjoyable afternoon at my former school, Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, last week as I met old friends and colleagues from there and old colleagues from the visiting American school, Gar-Field High School Virginia. The students from the States were as engaging and interested as they have always been and just happy to be in a different country interacting with British students. Naturally the EU vote came up as a topic of discussion as well as the US presidential election this autumn now gearing up between two quite different candidates in Trump and Clinton. It reminded me again as I drove home along the M4 to Bristol the absolute value of students having a global dimension underpinning their education. Whatever happens over the next two years in negotiations for the EU one thing is as certain as death and taxes, the World will experience more globalisation not less and our young people need to be educated to face this challenge.
It hard to believe the academic year is just a couple of weeks away and we are in July already. As a “newish” Head now I am in the process of reflecting back over the year as well as planning forward to the new term starting in September. I know my colleagues and students are ready for a well-deserved rest over the summer so I am amazed at the energy and enthusiasm still going into events like next week’s Creativity Festival, the summer picnic we have today and especially for the Year 6 induction week we have just had where it has been a pleasure to see our future students from our primary partners in Gloucestershire and from Wales spend time getting used to the change. We have record numbers of Year 11s with us next week for Sixth Form induction as they begin their next stage of education now the exams are over. I understand from tired but happy colleagues how successful the Year 11 Prom was on Thursday.
There is a new book out on educational leadership by Andy Buck called “Leadership Matters” and he is a huge advocate of the idea of “discretionary effort” – colleagues going the extra mile. If I was to look at anything that stands out for me as a Head it would be the willingness of Wyedean’s dedicated staff, parents and governors working tirelessly with our students to make the school a success. I see it daily and it has made all the difference to me as a Head this year ensuring the school is going forward for the students we have in our trust.
I am not sure I can watch the Wales v Belgium game but whatever happens it has been an incredible achievement in the Euros already by this team. Chris Coleman’s greatest success for me is making all those individuals from the World’s most expensive player to the plodding journeymen from the lower leagues into this one team. Stronger together. A valuable example to say a Headteacher, educational policymaker or even politicians struggling to give clear leadership when it is most needed. Cymru am byth!